Logics of Organization Theory: Audiences, Codes, and Ecologies

book cover for Logics of Organization Theory

Logics of Organization Theory: Audiences, Codes, and Ecologies

By Michael T. Hannan, László Pólos, Glenn R. Carroll
Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2007

Building theories of organizations is challenging: theories are partial and “folk” categories are fuzzy. The commonly used tools— first-order logic and its foundational set theory — are ill-suited for handling these complications. Here, three leading authorities rethink organization theory. Logics of Organization Theory sets forth and applies a new language for theory building based on a non-monotonic logic and fuzzy set theory. In doing so, not only does it mark a major advance in organizational theory, but it also draws lessons for theory building elsewhere in the social sciences.  Organizational research typically analyzes organizations in categories such as “bank,” “hospital,” or “university.” These categories have been treated as crisp analytical constructs designed by researchers. But sociologists increasingly view categories as constructed by audiences. This book builds on cognitive psychology and anthropology to develop an audience-based theory of organizational categories. It applies this framework and the new language of theory building to organizational ecology. It reconstructs and integrates four central theory fragments, and in so doing reveals unexpected connections and new insights.

Selected Editorial Reviews
In Logics of Organization Theory, Michael Hannan teams up with László Pólos and Glenn Carroll to reflect on organizational ecology as a research discipline and to point the way forward. They note that, over the years, theories in organizational ecology have become fragmented
Jeroen Kuilman, Organization Studies
Hannan, Polos, and Carroll have returned to the foundations of ecology, addressing exactly the issues that once animated their opposition. I think this is a delightfully courageous effort, and this book deserves to be recognized as an affirming statement about scholarly values.
Paul Ingram, American Journal of Sociology
The overall message is a rather pessimistic one: core changes are risky and often (or presumably) unsuccessful. Compared with the generally more optimistic literature on organizational change, this part clears up some of the apparent contradictions—the main remaining difference is one of degree—on the chances of gaining substantially from the results of a successful change (if only successful by luck).
Administrative Quarterly